In the build-up to Retro Day, we'll be looking back at some of the most high profile Stevenage games over the past 20 years with the help of photos from Action Images which we've been given permission to use. First up it's two of the best FA Cup runs from the mid-1990s...
The FA Cup and Stevenage have always enjoyed a good relationship and a couple of runs in the mid-1990s really put the club on the footballing map.
Under Paul Fairclough’s leadership Boro reached the third round for the first time in 1997 after a nine-game run which included a win at Leyton Orient in Round 2. Stevenage were then drawn against Birmingham City, with the match being switched to St Andrews for safety reasons. Boro – designated the home side for the day – fell to a 2-0 defeat and the run was over.
However it was the following season’s FA Cup run which really catapulted the club into the national spotlight. After emerging victorious from a second round replay with Cambridge United, Boro again made the third round and were handed an away game at Swindon. In scenes which will be remembered for many years by the Boro faithful, Stevenage won 2-1 in atrocious weather conditions, coming from behind to claim victory thanks to goals from Jason Soloman and loan singing Giuliano Grazioli.
Grazioli celebrates scoring the winner at Swindon
The victorious Stevenage Borough team
Cloughie celebrates the victory at the County Ground
Grazioli and Soloman - the Borough goalscorers that day
That victory set up a fourth round tie with Premier League giants Newcastle United. Despite efforts by Newcastle to move the tie back to St James’ Park, over 8,040 packed into Broadhall Way as the world’s media descended on the town. England striker Alan Shearer headed the visitors in front after just two minutes but the non-league side fought back and had a goal disallowed for offside. Grazioli then confirmed himself a place in Stevenage folklore by heading a famous equaliser and Borough hung on to claim a quite remarkable draw for the non-league side.
FA Cup fever hits Stevenage again
Alan Shearer puts the Geordies ahead after just two minutes
Grazioli equalises for Stevenage against Newcastle
That equaliser leads to scenes of jubilation at Broadhall Way
Stevenage celebrate their famous 1-1 draw with Newcastle
2,000 Stevenage fans travelled to St James’ Park for the replay, again televised on Sky. Shearer scored twice – the first controversially after Mark Smith’s acrobatic clearance had actually looked like saving Boro’s blushes – and although Gary Crawshaw pulled one back in the second half to give the Boro fans something to cheer, the brave run came to an end.
It never crossed the line! Mark Smith's acrobatics are for nothing as Newcastle awarded controversial goal
Gary Crawshaw celebrates his goal at St James' Park
The Borough players reflect on their wonderful FA Cup journey
Although eliminated Stevenage Borough had put themselves on the footballing map and the club was to gain its revenge over Newcastle 13 years later...
Full details of Retro Day activities this Good Friday against Tranmere Rovers can be found here. In advance tickets are available at www.borotickets.co.uk for this game, ranging from £3-£20. Family tickets are also available in advance only, priced at £30 for a family of three (1 adult, 2 U16s) and £40 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 U16s).